I’ve written about the ConnectingHR unconference in my previous blog post. In the run up to the event, one of the things I was excited and anxious about was doing a PechaKucha presentation. I had volunteered to do this, so it was my damn fault. Anyhow, it turned out to be a worthwhile experience.
Rewind. I need to explain about PechaKuchas (PK for short). So, PKs are a format of presenting in time to a slide deck that is pre-set at 20 slides which autoforward every 20 seconds. It started with a bunch of architects in Japan and grew virally across the globe into a movement. People get together for PK nights, kind of like an open mic comedy or poetry evening. Read more about it, and find a PK night near you on the official PK website.
PKs were included within the ConnectingHR unconference because they are a great way of keeping talking at people to a minimum, and make more space for the conversations afterwards.
My talk was billed as being about how social media has been useful for my own development and in my job role as an L&D manager. Here it is:
I learned a number of things from the experience:
1) Make the content fit the format
This is the same with any presentation, but it is particularly important for a PK. Beforehand, I found a few helpful blog posts, and one bit of advice I took on was to limit my key points to only 1 or 2. So I wrote a short list of things I wanted to say, and edited it down to two key points. These were Ken Robinson’s take on tribes, and about the ‘red bull’, supercharging effect of social media.
2) Plan it on post its
Several years ago I came across the books of professional presenters/presentation designers Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte. From them I learnt the importance of ditching the pc/laptop at the start and planning the structure of any presentation using pieces of a5 paper or post its. This gives the opportunity to work out ‘chapter heading slides’ and also to quickly swap about the running order. Whilst this is a habit I have found useful for normal Powerpoint/Keynote or even Prezi’s, I found it to be especially important for the PK.
3) Use filler slides
I had a few slides which were simply illustrations of something I’d said during a previous slide. This gave me reassurance that if I did lose the plot in terms of my timing, I had an opportunity to catch up during these slides. Also it stops the audience from being battered by a tsunami of ideas and content.
Every website I looked at said that it is vital to practice. And the very wise Sukhvinder Pabial tweeted several times advising me to practice. I was a bit strapped for time. So what I did was to practice whilst I was doing things like getting dressed, or driving. Also, I recorded myself – just on audio only, using that little Audio Recorder app on my phone. That way, I was able to play it back as preparation, whilst eating breakfast! The practicing was definitely necessary, for me anyway. The first timed run through I did was 9 minutes long! (It should be 6 mins 40 secs).
5) Thank you for the support!
I couldn’t have had a more supportive audience. I had so many encouraging comments and tweets, especially during and after doing the PK. Thank you everyone – you put a big smile on my face.
I think that PKs are a good format for keeping presentations concise, and for forcing presenters to examine the messages and amount of content that they are trying to convey. They also encourage the presenter to practice. It certainly made me realise that I don’t normally practice enough for conventional presentations. I still can’t pronounce PechaKucha though.